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First Step To Organize Photographs: Gather Loose Photos & Negatives Into Central Location

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Today's mission is the first step you'll need to take to organize photographs in your home, and that is to gather loose photos and negatives into a central location in your home.

Organize Photos Challenge
This mission is designed to be done while we work on the Organize Photos Challenge here on the site, which is part of the 52 Week Organized Home Challenge. That means to get the big picture of the whole process or organizing photos check out that article.

Today we're focused on a smaller task that is critical to success in getting your family's physically printed out photos organized, and it all starts with gathering them from all the various places you've stashed them in your home over the years.

(To be clear, we'll focus on digital photographs later this week in several additional missions. Today, focus on photographs that have already been printed out.)

Why is gathering everything together the first step? It's simple. You cannot even begin to organize something if you don't know where all the parts are, so this first step is vital to making sure when you begin organizing you've got everything ready.

How to do the first step of the process to organize photographs, which is to gather loose photographs and negatives into a central location in your home {a #Declutter365 mission on Home Storage Solutions 101}use this Pin it button to save to Pinterest
If you just have a few loose photos, and most everything is already in albums or categorized, this may be a simple task for you.

However, on the other hand, you may have boxes or tubs of photos spanning over decades, all thrown together without much organization and sorting, which can make this feel like a daunting project.

Today, just focus on the first step, gathering everything together.

As always, if you can't complete a task in 15 minutes then instead complete the task 15 minutes at a time.

Gather up
all of the packets of school photos, or packets of photos you got developed from a vacation years ago and meant to add to albums but didn't, and on and on.

This can also include loose photos from others who've given them to you as gifts. One such category I know I've gotten a lot are photos from others who've taken a picture of my children, and I want to add those shots to an album too.

You've got to get it all gathered into a central location so they're in the right place to start the sorting and organizing process.

The other purpose of this mission is to create a central location that from now on you'll keep all your photos together as you receive them or after getting them developed or printed. That way even if you don't have time to place those photo in albums or scrapbooks, or whatever your preferred organizational method is, right that minute, they'll all be in one place, ready, when you do have time.

Make sure that as you gather up these photos that you're placing them, even for temporary storage, in something photo safe, so they don't get bent or damaged before you can begin the organization process.

You can find out more about the 5 rules of photograph storage here, to make sure the method you choose will not be something you regret later.

Below I've got a photo from a reader who has already done this mission to get you inspired to tackle this preparatory task for yourself, so you can organize photographs and family memories to enjoy for years to come!

How to do the first step of the process to organize photographs, which is to gather loose photographs and negatives into a central location in your home {a #Declutter365 mission on Home Storage Solutions 101}use this Pin it button to save to Pinterest

Top photo courtesy of martinak15 from Flickr Creative Commons

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Are You Ready To Organize Photographs?

Box of old photos gathered together and ready to declutter, sort and organize {part of the process of organizing photographs, on Home Storage Solutions 101}use this Pin it button to save to Pinterest

I know that organizing photos can feel like a daunting task, especially when you've got perhaps decades or photos to deal with.

But start with just one step, the first one, gathering everything up into one spot so you know what you've got to tackle.

Here's a photo from a reader, Starla, who did just that. She explained that she gathered many of these photos together, into this box, although some of them had already been in there for years.

In Starla's case she decided to digitize these photos, and then get rid of the physical copies. You should only do this if you want, but you don't have to. Instead, as part of the Declutter 365 missions we'll be spending a couple of days sorting and organizing photos like this in whatever way you want, which can include adding them eventually to albums, or at least categorizing and sorting them into collections that you can enjoy more easily.

Are You Ready To Declutter Your Home?

declutter 365
I hope this mission has inspired you to take that first step toward photo organization.

When you begin to declutter the feeling you get is contagious, so if you're loving the results you're getting I would encourage you to keep going.

I've got a whole series of 15 minute decluttering missions (eventually 365 of them!) that you can do.

Just pick and choose the ones you want to do, that will make a big impact in your home. But if you want someone else to tell you the order you can also grab the 15 minute daily decluttering mission calendars and follow along as we all get our homes clutter free together!

In addition, check out my round up of over 40 photo storage and organization products, that are all archival quality, that can help you with this task, on Amazon. To find the list go to my Amazon store (at the link), and then scroll down for that list. (referral link)

40+ photo storage and organization ideas

Related Pages You May Enjoy

Getting Clutter Free 15 Minutes At A Time Hall Of Fame

Getting Rid Of Media & Entertainment Clutter Hall Of Fame

How To Organize Photos The Easy Way: Set Up A Routine

Go From The First Step To Organize Photographs To Home Page

Comments for Are You Ready To Organize Photographs?

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Miscellaneous Photos Still in Packages
by: Tracy Creed Pritchard

Well, its too late to actually show the before pics, but they took up a whole corner and side table/desk for years. I finally took them all out and began filing them in before, during, after marriage to my husband over a decade ago. I separated them into old pre-children family years, single/school/college years, 1st/2nd marriage/family/children oldest to youngest, dating years, family reunion pics, and finally all the class pics from each of our five children (His,3; Mine,1; and Ours,1)...Whew!!! I am feeling great. I now have them to the point where I know how many frames, photo albums and scrapbooks I need. I am going to have an awesomely productive summer due to doing this. Really, it took a couple of days intense separating, organizing, filing and counting, but I got it done. WooHoo!!! I am a happy camper...We have a beautiful and truly blessed family. Thank GOD for them all. The photo space is now down to about a half dozen Manilla folders, Labeled, counted, filed, and ready to be placed in either a frame according to size or a photo album or scrapbook. I am sooo patting myself on the back right now.

I suggest organizing by year
by: Sally

I highly encourage all of you to start by organizing by year!!! If you want to sort them into special occasions, holidays or months later you can as you find the time! I used to organize by family, but over time the folders grew out of control, so I have now set a folder for each year that I am sorting into. I started fresh with 2012 and have a folder for each month, then occasions, holidays or whatever else can be put into the monthly folders. (Tip: you will want to label monthly folders starting with 01 for January, 02 for February etc through 12. If you label them with the actual month, they will be out of order).

I learned from my grandma to organize my photos
by: Carol Sutton

50 years ago my grandma showed me a box of loose black and white photos, most without names or dates on them. I vowed then that I would NEVER do that. My photos are organized, but thanks for your blog.

by: Bernice

Just started. I have inherited family photos, plus I have over 70 yrs of our own. I'm organizing them by the homes we lived in before and after 50 years of marriage. Then by children, and events (mostly weddings). I eliminated extraneous ones of relatives and people our children know. I left that stack for our children to keep or discard. Still have several more crates to go thru. B

by: Anonymous

Anybody have ideas for how to store digital photos. My computer and phones are full of pictures. I have a fear of saving them in a cloud. What do you all do with them?

re question about organizing digital photos
by: Taylor

I would suggest reading the main Organized Home Challenge article for tips for organizing digital photos. You can find it here. I don't necessarily think you should have your photos only in the cloud, but I do urge you to have some sort of back up for them, and not just on your phone and computer!

NOT solely in the cloud
by: Christie

I strongly recommend NOT storing precious photos exclusively in the cloud. My daughter had her PhD dissertation in the cloud and lost a major part of it before publishing. Countless hours with techs and phone calls could not retrieve it. Fortunately, she was able to rewrite those chapters, but precious pictures would be lost forever.

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